Investigating Tablet and Ultra-Mobile PCs for Learning and Working

26 11 2007

Our department needs to replace some of its old equipment, including my laptop which (after months of wheezing) finally keeled on the very first day of this year’s MLearn conference – (talk about bad timing!).

We’re looking towards the future with smaller, more portable laptops, and I’m also investigating the possibility of investing in a UMPC and a tablet PC as part of our ongoing explorations of the potential of portable digital devices for learning. Part of my interest in the latter two platforms is due to our team’s current work investigating the potential of virtual worlds on mobile devices – for example, using EduSim on a tablet or ultra-mobile PC rather than an interactive Smartboard, to get the same “direct interaction” effect but with a portable platform. One possible application of this would be in the development of situated simulations, so that a learner in a particular location could “model” potential choices or actions to simulate outcomes.

Front view of X60 Tablet
[Above: IBM x61 Tablet PC, recommended by Harriet]

However, I’m also somewhat cautious about investigating tablet PCs, as one of the presentations at this year’s Handheld Learning conference suggested that tablet PCs failed to show any advantages over standard laptops in one particular trial. It would be important to determine why this was the case – if it was because the extra capability of the devices was not exploited or was simply not needed, or if aspects of the tablet form-factor were, in fact, counter-productive.

I’d be interested to hear if you’ve tried using a tablet or ultra-mobile PC in your education setting – how have they worked for you? Also, does anyone have a recommendation on a tablet or UMPC that I should evaluate!?

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One response

27 11 2007
Ian Stuart

We have been using Tablet PC’s and wireless projectors for over a year now. This is instead of interactive Boards. They have huge advantages. One being huge screen size. Other not having a teacher infront of what your trying to see.
The pupils (All pupils) now have UMPC’s. This is to make the classroom fully interactive with pupils contributing constantly from where they are
Any questions please just ask

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